The Super Bowl is the largest game of the year for the National Football League (“NFL”). Last year, 62,417 fans sat in the stands and watched the Kansas City Chiefs defeat the San Francisco 49ers. This Sunday, February 7, it will be a different experience for fans who are attending to watch the Kansas City Chiefs play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at their home stadium. Due to the pandemic, the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay has limited its 65,000 seats to allow only 25,000 fans. Out of the 25,000 fans, 7,500 are vaccinated health workers.
The NFL has “partnered with state and local officials along with the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”)” to develop new safety protocols for Super Bowl LV. However, public health experts are concerned that the Super Bowl, as well as watch parties, “could trigger [a] coronavirus explosion.”
Hoping to keep Super Bowl LV a safe event, masks are mandatory for all fans, players, and team staff. To ensure that people are not too close to each other during the game, there will be around 30,000 cut-outs of fans in the seats. Additionally, all 25,000 fans will receive free PPE kits upon arrival at the stadium.
The NFL has put together a “Fan Gameday Playbook” for attendees of the Super Bowl to reference for guidelines on how to safely attend the event. The main focuses for the safety protocol include physical distancing, face coverings, hygiene, first aid, directional signage, ingress and egress, proximity to players and each other, cash free payments, enhanced cleaning, staff temperature checks, and face coverings & PPE.
Guidelines for fans attending Super Bowl LV:
Guidelines for staff working Super Bowl LV:
The NFL is not letting the pandemic stop it from giving its fans an iconic halftime show. This year, The Weeknd will perform. Although the show will include some changes to conform with new safety protocols, it will likely still be extremely impressive.
Beyond the celebration at the stadium, experts are more concerned about “the parties in people’s homes or at restaurants and bars.” The CDC, as well as Dr. Anthony Fauci, has urged people to stay home and watch the Super Bowl with people who live together. At a press conference Thursday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stated, “We want our fans to be safe, they need to be smart, they need to wear their PPE, they need to be gathering in small groups.”
Whether or not the Super Bowl itself, or watch parties, actually do end up spreading COVID-19 will be unknown until up to two weeks after the event. It is important that everyone stays safe and follows the recommendations given by the CDC. Although Super Bowl LV will be a different experience than in the past, I am sure the NFL has done all it can to make this year just as memorable.